SA growers to get the dirt on the health of their soils

Author: | Date: 19 Jun 2012

Soil sample being examined under a microscope.

SA growers to get the dirt on the health of their soils

South Australian grain growers will soon have a greater understanding of the comparative health and quality of their cropping soils to assist in their efforts to improve yields and productivity.

As part of the National Soil Quality Monitoring Program, which is funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) through its Soil Biology Initiative II, a new resource is about to be launched, providing growers with insightful paddock data.

The innovative website,, will enable growers to compare the condition of their soils with that of their regional farming counterparts.

The website is also supported with fact sheets and simple calculators that relate the soil quality indicators to productivity and management options. This information will help growers to make better management decisions.

The SA node of the interactive website will be launched later this month at a soil quality workshop at Clare where growers, consultants and advisers will gather to put Mid North soils under the microscope.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation-supported event will provide workshop participants with an insight into the health of local soils and their capacity to influence increased productivity.

To be held at the Clare Golf Club from 9.30am to 1pm on Tuesday, June 19, the workshop will perform two main functions, according to organiser Dr Murray Unkovich, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture Food and Wine.

“The first reason for conducting the event is the launch of the SA node of the Soil Quality website, which provides access to data on agricultural soils on a regional basis,” Dr Unkovich said.

“By using the tools provided on this website, growers and their advisers can gain a better understanding of the health of their soil, and they can compare data and examine soil relationships.”

Dr Unkovich said that as part of the Soil Carbon Research Program (SCaRP) which is managed by CSIRO and funded by GRDC and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), more than 100 SA farm soils (half of which were in the Mid North) have been sampled and analysed for carbon stocks, as well as a range of other chemical, physical and biological indicators of soil health.

The results of these analyses will be available via the Soil Quality website and growers will be able to see where their farm sits relative to others across the region.

“The workshop at Clare will also provide an opportunity for growers to receive feedback on the results of the SCaRP analyses on their farm,” Dr Unkovich said.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide, CSIRO and Rural Solutions SA will be at the workshop to discuss soil carbon, soil pH, soil phosphorus and soil biology.

For further information or to register for the workshop, contact Dr Unkovich via email or phone 0432 538932.

More information about GRDC’s Soil Biology Initiative II research, development and extension program is available via


Caption: A soil quality workshop at Clare this month will put SA’s Mid North soils under the microscope.

GRDC Project Codes: UWA00138, DAV00102, DAS000111, UWA00142, UWA00139, DAV00106, CSP00138, UA00119, DAQ00164, CSP00135, DAV00105

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For further information: Murray Unkovich
University of Adelaide
0432 538932

Contact: Sharon Watt
Porter Novelli
0409 675100

GRDC Project Code UWA00138, DAV00102, DAS000111, UWA00142, UWA00139, DAV00106, CSP00138, UA00119, DAQ00164, CSP00135, DAV00105

Region South, West, North